Emergence of tourism as a leading growth industry is a part of a gradual process involving the displacement of manufacture from its dominant position and the transition to a service oriented economy.
The term ‘smokeless’ industry has become a cliche, but it is doing all that a manufacturing industry does namely, generating income, employment, wealth, etc., that is, generating the ripple/multiplier effects, encouraging innovations in addition to satisfying human needs.
In other words, tourism is largely examined and questioned for its ample potential to give rise to changes in the economic, ecological, societal and cultural edifice of a country.
However, two aspects of tourism – its capacity to generate employment, both directly as well as indirectly, and its potential to earn hard international currency for the host country – have made this industry greatly desirable for all concerned: governments, planners, entrepreneurs and people in general.
It has come, therefore, increasingly to occupy a place of importance not only for the business sector but also for the concerned academic and management institutions.
Presently, the sphere of tourism is a world-wide phenomenon. The outcome of increasing tourism has been found to be a critical and crucial catalyst in accelerating the rate of socio-economic development.
Tourism especially is a software product and is in the tertiary/service sector with relatively high value addition and so needs to be exploited to its full. The countries should determine their national priorities and tourism’s role in a proper ‘hierarchy’ of priorities to devise its optimum tourism strategy.
This strategy should define, amongst others, the balance to be sought between tourism development and environment; take into account the carrying capacity of the destinations; and the roles of State, Regional and Local Organizations.
Within the overall national tourism strategy, priority attention should be given to selected and controlled development of tourist infrastructure, facilities, demand and overall tourist capacity in order to protect the environment and local resident population, so as to minimize, if not avoid, any negative impacts which unplanned tourism might produce.
The main elements in the process of tourism are man, space and time. As such, it has serious implications of a socio-economic nature alongside the environmental ones. In fact, in a significant sense, it is one of the most influential phenomena in the economic and social development of society.
There is hardly any other economic sector which generates as much added value, employment and foreign exchange and that also at such a low cost as tourism. The economic significance of tourism is well brought out by the statistics/figures of the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) and John Naisbaitt in his book ‘Global Paradox’ as it contributes 10.2% to world GDP, 10.7% of capital investment, employs 10.6% of global work force, accounts for 10.9% of all consumer spending and 6.9% of all government spending.
It is natural, therefore, that the study of tourism has come to acquire an increasingly important place in the academic and practical agenda of the world. Tourism, often deemed as a pastime and thus, a trivial activity, has over the years developed into a highly complex phenomenon with multifarious and multidimensional economic, socio-cultural and environmental effects.